College is expensive, but there are ways to get help including an expansive list of college scholarships.
It’s no secret that college tuition continues to increase. The average college education costs just under $50,000 for private schools and $21,000 for in-state public schools. With the increasing cost, many students need financial help if they want to pursue a college education.
Schools and various programs throughout the country offer scholarships for college students and various forms of financial aid to make a college education possible. While the market has plenty of room for people without a college degree to get a decent paying job, college graduates earn an average of $20,000 more per year than high school graduates making college an important decision for many.
So how do you find the best college scholarships to help you afford a college education without getting in over your head in debt? Check out the list below.
National Merit Scholarship
The National Merit Scholarship honors students with top academic performance throughout the United States. High school students must take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test during their junior year of high school to qualify. The top 50,000 scorers are comprised of 34,000 commended students. These are the students that don’t receive the top scholarship, but may receive some type of financial award. The remaining top scorers are the top 16,000 semi-finalists. The semi-finalists are able to compete for scholarship money from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The scholarships range from $2,500 to full-ride scholarships covering tuition and room and board. Most semi-finalists receive some type of award.
Gates Millennium Scholarship
The Gates Millennium Scholarship helps minority college students pay for college. The scholarship is funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The average award provided is $12,785 and there are at least 1,000 new Gates Scholarship winners every year. The Gates Millennium Program also offers post-secondary scholarships for students that wish to continue their education.
Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation
Each year, Coca-Cola awards scholarship money to more than 1,400 students to the tune of $3.45 million. Coca-Cola’s largest scholarship is the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation Scholarship that is awarded to just 150 students each year. These students show incredible merit and abilities, rather than financial need. Each winner receives a scholarship of $20,000. Coca-Cola also awards other scholarships ranging from $1,000 - $1,500 to more than 300 students every year to help finance more college educations.
The Dell Scholars Program is more than a scholarship – it’s a support system. It targets low-income, but motivated students that aren’t able to show their true capabilities due to other responsibilities at home. These scholars have the motivation to succeed, but need a little support, both financial and emotional, to achieve their goals. The Dell Scholar program offers a supportive system where peers, staff, and students can meet to come up with solutions to common problems that stand in their way of an education.
The ScholarshipPoints program helps students earn ‘points’ to win a scholarship drawing. Members earn points by taking surveys, reading blogs, and visiting sponsors. The more points you earn, the more scholarships you can try to win. Every point members earn puts them in a scholarship drawing. You choose which drawings to enter by ‘spending’ your points. Every month ScholarshipPoints awards scholarships in the amount of $1,000 and every three months they award a $10,000 scholarship.
Sometimes financial aid and college scholarships aren’t enough – you need more. PrivateStudentLoans.com matches you up with potential private lenders based on your qualifying information. PrivateStudentLoans.com helps you compare your options, complete applications, and helps educate borrowers on all possible options to fund their college education.
The Honor Society Foundation offers a variety of scholarships ranging from $1,000 - $2,000 for a variety of reasons. They award scholarships or a variety of reasons including exemplifying core values, community service, undergrad and grad achievers, emerging leaders, and a study abroad scholarship, just to name a few. Applicants must individually apply for each scholarship they are interested in through the National Honor Society.
ScholarshipOwl is a scholarship locator service. It has both free and paid versions that match you up with scholarships and even apply for you. After you complete a profile, ScholarshipOwl matches you with potential programs. If you opt for the paid service, ScholarshipOwl automatically applies for renewing scholarships for you and gives you access to your own customer service manager to ensure the best results.
Alternatives to Scholarships
Even if you don’t get any scholarships or don’t get enough money from them, there’s help available Federal Student Aid available. The Office of the Department of Education offers grants, loans, and student study programs that help you pay for college expenses including tuition and room and board.
In order to qualify, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. On the application, you list the schools you would like to attend. You’ll then receive an award letter from each school based on your needs and the funds available at the school. You may receive one of three types of aid:
- Grants – This can be thought of as ‘free’ money that need not be repaid in many cases, though some grants will make this contingent on your graduation. It may not pay the full amount of your college education, but it will help offset some of the costs.
- Federal Student Loan – You’ll repay the amount you borrow with interest, but you don’t have to start repaying until you have been graduated for six months, in most cases. Federal loans have low interest rates and payment plans according to your income making repayment easier.
Exhaust all of your options for scholarships and financial aid when considering a college education. There are numerous options available today and not just for the ‘perfect’ students with a perfect GPA. Many companies and programs have scholarship programs available that help students of all walks of life get the chance that they deserve getting a college education.